An interview of Robert Levin conducted 2004 December 11, by Joan Byrd, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Burnsville, North Carolina.
Levin speaks of growing up in Dundalk, Maryland; participating in theater in high school; attending Denison University; becoming interested in ceramics and glass; attending graduate school at Southern Illinois University; working as an assistant to Fritz Dreisbach at Pilchuck Glass School; teaching at Penland School of Crafts; becoming resident glass artist at Penland; influential artists; moving to Celo; the North Carolina craft community; the element of play in his work; mixing glass colors; keeping variety in his work; the process of making sculptural and functional pieces; the influence of nature and other cultures on his work; including political and social statements in his work; making mixed-media pieces; working on commission; making Judaica pieces; the glass blowing process; being part of an international glass tradition; participating in the Glass Art Society; the reasons he enjoys teaching; attending GAS conferences; participating in regional art organizations; his home studio and the equipment he uses; how his working process has changed; designing a series of awards; his interest in music and guitar; the qualities of glass; and the importance of intuitiveness in creating his pieces. Levin also recalls Audrey Handler, Bill Boysen, Bill Brown, Richard Ritter, Bill Bernstein, Mark Peiser, Harvey Littleton, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Robert Levin (1948- ) is a glass artist from Burnsville, North Carolina. Joan Falconer Byrd (1939- ) is a professor in the art department, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina.
Originally recorded on 3 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 3 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 14 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Tapes and transcripts of interviews with North Carolina glass artists conducted by Mary Douglas as part of her research for a paper, "Rural Esthetics in the North Carolina Glass Community," delivered at the 1995 Glass Art Society (GAS) Conference in Asheville, N.C. Interviewees include: Rick and Valerie Beck, William Bernstein, Gilbert C. Johnson, Rob Levin, Joe Nielander, John and Sharon Nygren, and Kate Vogel and John Littleton.
Topics covered include "craft culture': whether there is a rural esthetic in North Carolina glass; the idea of community around Penland School and the surrounding region of the Southern Highlands; the significance of the region's craft history on contemporary glass artists; and the distinctive qualities of North Carolina glass.
Biographical / Historical:
Art historian; Statesville, N.C.
Donated 1997 by Mary Douglas. The paper for which these interviews was conducted was subsequently published in the Glass Art Society Journal (1995, p. 34-41). Each of the artists interviewed agreed to donate their interviews to the Archives, with the exception of Harvey K. Littleton.
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